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Arizona legislator sets sights on sanctuary cities with bill

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – An Arizona lawmaker said legislation he recently introduced to crack down on sanctuary cities in the state was focused on citizens’ safety.

Republican Rep. Bret Roberts said HB 2598 was designed to hold any sanctuary city, town or county accountable for damages against victims of crimes committed by anyone who is in living in the country illegally.

“The bill is about public safety,” the city of Maricopa legislator told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Monday.

“It protects our citizens.”

Voters in Tucson turned down a ballot proposition last November that would have made it the state’s first sanctuary city.

But Proposition 205 inspired Roberts and other legislators to shore up Arizona law that allows the state to cut off funding to cities that pass laws conflicting with state.

“It would give our citizens the opportunity, if they were to become a victim of someone that, that municipality did not cooperate with on an ICE detainer, then (the victim) could go back and sue that municipality. It creates a civil liability issue.”

By law, sanctuary cities can be penalized anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 each day the violation lasts.

The stipulation passed in 2016.

Another bill introduced last week would amend the state Constitution to ban sanctuary cities via voters.

Roberts’ bill “says to (sanctuary cities), if you’re going to do this, then you need to be … ready to take care of the financial responsibility that comes along with those policies,” he said.

Sponsoring the bill has come with some blowback.

“I tend to take it personally when they’re throwing those narratives out there because if you’re saying the bill is racist, then you’re trying to say I’m racist.

“And I’m tired of that narrative.”

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